Hepatitis B Immunizations

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B can be either acute, a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after being exposed to the virus or chronic, a long-term illness that occurs when the Hepatitis B virus remains in a person's body.

Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected.

People can become infected with the virus during activities such as:

  • Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth)
  • Sex with an infected partner
  • Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
  • Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
  • Exposure to blood from needlesticks or other sharp instruments

Hepatitis B Signs & Symptoms  

Acute Hepatitis B produces symptoms that include:  

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or the eyes)

Chronic Hepatitis B can produce ongoing symptoms similar to acute Hepatitis B, but many individuals remain symptom free for as long as 30 years. Chronic Hepatitis B can result in long-term health problems, serious liver conditions including liver damage, liver failure or liver cancer.

Many people with Hepatitis B have no symptoms but can still spread the virus.

Hepatitis B Immunization Recommendations  

Hepatitis B can be prevented by immunization and provides greater than 90% protection to those immunized before being exposed to the virus.  The vaccine is usually given as a series of three doses over a 6-month period. 

Immunization is recommended for women who:

  • Have sex with an infected partner
  • Are sexually active with multiple sex partners
  • Are seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
  • Share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • Have close household contact with someone infected with the virus
  • Are healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids on the job
  • Have chronic liver disease, end-stage renal disease, or HIV infection
  • Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
  • Travel to regions with moderate or high rates of hepatitis B
  • Anyone who wishes to be protected from Hepatitis B virus infection whether they have risk factors or not

Hepatitis B Links & Resources  

The links provided below offer more information about Hepatitis B and Hepatitis B immunizations.

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